Bob over at Satisfying Retirement has a post up regarding "small ball" or the little things we do to cut costs or make life more simple. There are lots of good suggestions from like minded people, most of which I do (although I am still on the cable wagon, by choice). There are, however, other things I do, that make life rewarding and get me things I might not otherwise have. The Vera Bradley coupon is a perfect example-but just the starting point.
As I said before, this is my birthday month, with the day being towards the end of September. Sitting in my coupon box at this moment are: a thirty dollar gift certificate to Benihana, a free birthday meal from Rockfish, a free meal from Steak and Shake, a free burger meal from Red Robin, and free body products for both Bath and Body Shop and Victoria's secret. There are more goodies that I have yet to print out sitting in my email box, and my birthday month is half over. I expect similar goodies from Red Lobster and other places too numerous to mention.
It is certainly doubtful that I will use all of these goodies, although I look forward to stopping at Red Robin tomorrow during my errands. I also received smaller offers such as free appetizers, free books, too many to name.
This does not just happen on my birth month. And it is not just "store" items that I collect. Quite often when I mention all the freebies I get and money I save, someone comments that they just don't have that much "free time". I have a fairly active retirement including multiple hobbies, travel, two small business and attending college and caring for a house. I would be unhappy spending large amounts of time, but I am willing to spend small amounts of time to free up money for other things and get extras. Bob mentions in his article that his coupon cutting and sales comparison takes less than half an hour a week and the savings are well worth the time. This is my experience.
In the case of my email goodies, I spent a tiny bit of extra time a single time. I created a Hotmail address, separate from my "real" email. Then, over a period of a week or so (perhaps more) I went to the website of every single place where I shopped, slept, or ate (and the stores that my adult kids used the most). I signed up as an "email subscriber" at each place. I did these even for the places I have "rewards" from, such as Hilton Honors, as the goodies tend to be different. The places were as varied as the previously mentioned Hilton and Best Western, Catherine's clothing store, chain restaurants, my local movie theaters, my local quilt store, and Barnes and Noble, and my local independent book store (did I mention I have one of those again?). There are a few grocery type products that we use all the time on the list as well, but that's not the kind of list this is.
Every day as part of my online routine (emails, blogs, the news, and so on) I scan this particular email list in Outlook. It takes me only a few minutes. For those who doubt, my maximum online time on a busy email and blog day tends to be an hour in the morning. This includes reading the news, my emails and responding, blogs and commenting, checking discounts and deals, going to face book and my online store and web page and more. I may return to the laptop later on to write a blog or do something else, later.
If there is something worth saving I put it in an email folder (birthday, free items, coupons) and then I delete the rest, quickly. Admittedly some of the emails I get are "spam", a few of them are sale notices that I might also get in the mail. Many however, are items that are usable throughout the year. Home Depot and Lowe's both have special coupons for email subscribers each week that don't appear in the local paper or circulars, just as an example. JCPenney still gives out their ten dollars off ten dollars or more coupons (which I usually give to my six foot six inch son to put towards extra large socks for his size fourteen feet). I love Panera bread and each month I get a coupon off a lunch entree. Some months I don't use it but some months I do. Each month both Barnes and Noble and my independent book store send me a coupon for a free large drink. Now, I love the library, but I also enjoy perusing book stores and put crafting magazines on my list of "have to haves". Most months, I grab a discounted magazine and a soft chair and enjoy my free beverage in the middle of my errands.
Also get plenty of "non food" freebies and coupons this way, as well as early offering of gift card deals. Every year my adult daughter gets a months worth of underwear in her stocking from my free pantie deal each month at Victoria's secret (sorry if this is too much info). That's just one example, but there are many more. In other words, most of the stuff I get is not "junk", nor miniature. Every week, my Cinemark movie theater sends me a coupon for a free snack item. Now, I don't go to the movies every week, but I am one of those folks who enjoys the theater experience and feels that some movies need to be seen in the theater. I eagerly await the Robert Redford movie release for example. Robert Redford has gotten a standing ovation at every movie festival at which it has been screened. By using my free coupon and attending at an early show and/or using my senior discount I can generally see a movie and enjoy a munchie for ten dollars. I should add that many of these sites have apps as well, but money saving apps deserve their own blog post, I do believe.
Everyone chooses their own way to save money, and some folks may not choose to be or need to be as intensive as I am. Still, even getting on a few of these lists can save money and give advance of good deals. I mean who can turn down a free plant from home depot in June?
All I can say is - it works for me.